High Court grants order to hospital to switch off baby's life support

Thursday 16 January 2014 07.53
The High Court has granted an order to switch off life support for a baby boy
The High Court has granted an order to switch off life support for a baby boy

A Dublin maternity hospital has been granted a High Court order allowing it to withdraw life support from a severely brain damaged newborn baby.

The baby was born yesterday. His young mother died shortly after delivering him.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted the order at a special sitting of the court.

The mother was 39 weeks pregnant and in cardiac arrest when she arrived at the hospital by ambulance yesterday afternoon. 

She required extensive resuscitation.

Her baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section. The mother was in critical condition and was transferred to the intensive care unit in another hospital.  

A decision was made to withdraw medical treatment and she died shortly afterwards.

The baby had no respiratory activity and needed artificial ventilation to stabilise him. He was on a ventilator and heart support and was severely brain damaged.

He was also administered morphine as doctors believed he was suffering pain.

The court was told the baby had only a 10% chance of surviving longer than 28 days.  

Even if he did so, they said, he would be severely and profoundly physically and mentally disabled, unable to move or swallow, requiring life-long care.

The baby's parents, who were both Irish, were not married and his mother was his sole legal guardian.  

The baby's grandmother and the child's father were both consenting to the life-sustaining treatment being withdrawn, the court was told.  But the hospital needed a court order to withdraw the treatment from him.

Mr Justice Kearns said it was a very sad case and he expressed sympathy to the baby's father and grandmother.

He granted the hospital's application.